"We just do what we do. We don't have a new album and I feel remarkably clean, actually, wrinkled but clean, because there's no other reason to do this other than the fact that we actually want to do it. We want to play together and do these shows and go out there and see if anybody wants to listen."
The band's so-called Turn It On Again reunion tour launched on June 11 in Helskini but kicks off its North American leg in Toronto at BMO Field tomorrow night.
"We did 25 shows in Europe, we could easily have done 60," Collins continue. "Every time we sold out a stadium we were asked if we wanted to do another night and a third night. Our biggest audience was 500,000 in Rome, it was a free concert.
"We probably won't make a lot of money out of the European tour. I doubt if we'll make any money on this tour. But we won't lose it. We're here just purely because we want to do it. And there's no album, there's no sponsorship, you know we're just doing it for the right reasons, we think, and other bands, not every story is the same. Maybe they are but I don't know. But we've been called far worse than wrinkled, I can assure you. I've got a scrapbook full."
The musicians, along with longtime sidemen Chester Thompson on drums and Daryl Stuermer on guitar, arrived in Toronto last weekend for rehearsals at the ACC and will move over to BMO Field today.
Collins said it looks like it'll be all work, no play despite the fact that the Toronto International Film Festival starts today.
"We're here, really, because most of the shows in North America are arenas rather than football stadiums, although ironically our first show here is in Toronto, which is a stadium," he said. "But we have to slightly adapt the stage and everything to arenas so that takes a bit of rehearsing."
The Toronto date will be followed by the only other stops in Canada, at Montreal's Stade Olympique on Sept. 14 and Ottawa's Scotiabank Place on Sept. 15.
"It's nice to start on friendly turf," said Collins of launching in Toronto. "But it's just from a routing point of view, I'm sure that's one of the reasons."
With a new oral history of the band due in stores soon, Turn It On Again, The Hits being released in record stores and a DVD/CD of their recent Rome show still to come, can a new Genesis album be far off?
"We're not planning to do anything beyond this," Banks said. "The idea of maybe a few more shows once this thing is sort of working, perhaps in other parts of the world, is quite attractive. In terms of writing and everything, I think we're a bit loathe to get into the whole kind of cycle of writing and recording and promoting. Those days are probably behind us but we don't rule the possibility of writing."
Still, Collins said he was surprised how much he's liked touring as Genesis again.
"The European tour was quite extraordinary for me because I didn't know how much I was going to enjoy it. And it was a big surprise to me just how warm the audience was."
Small group sees big show
About 350 Genesis fans and select media got a preview of the band's North American tour launch tomorrow night in Toronto at BMO Field with a full-blown production rehearsal yesterday at the Air Canada Centre.
The media was kicked out after the opening instrumental, followed by three songs -- Turn it On, No Son of Mine and Land of Confusion -- but the remaining fan-club members got to stay in their seats on the floor for the entire 21/2 hours.
"Good evening, small group of people," joked frontman Phil Collins.
"It's up to you, Toronto, to make a noise like 30,000."
Collins, bassist-guitarist Mike Rutherford, keyboardist Tony Banks and longtime sidemen Chester Thompson on drums and Daryl Stuermer on guitar, performed on a gleaming silver stage with seven overhead lighting rigs and two oval screens on either side of the stage.
There was also an impressive LED screen backdrop onto which video and other images were projected.
Collins began on his drumkit for the instrumental but eventually came to the front of the stage to sing even though he proved to be a pretty static performer.
© Sun Media, by Jane Stevenson